It’s just my opinion, but I think The Punisher is a classic case of a “peak too sooner”. This limited series started so damn good it flamed out even before it was done! Ohhh, but how good those first four issues were! Forget all the crap that came out after this. THIS is the Punisher.
Cover art from issues 1, 2 and 3. These were scanned from the original airbrush paintings by Phil Zimelman (over Mike Zeck’s original artwork).
This series used to command top dollar in the back issue market, but the the way the character has been so over used, and the number of times this series has been reprinted in trade paperback form, you can find them quite reasonably on eBay. Though if you’re like me, I really do like the convenience of the collected editions, especially the nice hardcover ones.
Don’t let that great Mike Zeck cover fool you. He and Steven Grant had nothing to do with this final issue. They hung up their hats after the fourth issue. Thanks to wikipedia for reminding me, there was a dig in the credits of issue #5, “The splash page of issue #5 has a caption stating, “Special thanks to true pros Mike Vosburg (pencils), Jo Duffy (script), and Big John Beatty (inks).” I always wondered what the drama was behind Mike Zeck not finishing the series, and that bitch slap in the credits. Anyone know?
Regardless, with Mike not doing the art, that last issue lands flat as a flounder. It’d be like watching Goodfellas and then having the final reel of the film replaced with some crap from Michael Bay.
As disappointing as the finale to this series was, it still holds a place in my heart. It introduced me to the Punisher, and really, in my mind the character has never been as good since.